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Nintendo takes Animal Crossing to phones in biggest mobile move

[TOKYO] Nintendo Co has made its biggest move in mobile gaming so far with plans to add Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp as its third smartphone title.

The game will be available on both Apple Inc's iOS and Android from late November and is the first smartphone iteration of a popular series about anthropomorphic animals. It will be free to download, but allow in-game purchases to speed up progress, a key to making money from such titles.

Analysts have high expectations for the new game, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc estimating an Animal Crossing title could generate twice as much revenue as the combined sales of Nintendo's two previous smartphone games - Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes.

In the June quarter, Nintendo reaped 9.1 billion yen (S$109 million) from its smartphone business. The company is due to report earnings for the September quarter on Monday.

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Shares of Nintendo rose 1.6 per cent to 44,790 yen as at 12.56pm in Tokyo, the highest level on an intraday basis since 2008. The stock has surged 82 per cent this year and its market value has swelled to about US$56 billion.

The Animal Crossing series debuted in 2001 on the Nintendo 64 console, with subsequent versions appearing on the company's DS and 3DS handheld devices. It has gained a strong following by giving animals memorable personalities and creating a believable world with various activities to complete.

The new game involves players completing errands for animals while building a customised camp site.

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